The Career Change

If you have been following my blog for sometime, you will know that in July 2016 I graduated from the university of Sunderland with a 2:1 in Childhood Studies. And since announcing my really not-so-sudden career change to adult nursing I have received so many questions as to why the change in career? Will I receive financial support? And am I nervous about starting a whole new undergraduate degree? Just to list a few.

So, as promised in last weeks post – which can be found here – I said I would address these questions, and talk about becoming a student nurse.

One of the most asked questions was why did I change my career, so let’s start with there. I’ve almost always known that I wanted to work as a health care professional, but as I got closer to my A Levels I wasn’t doing all that well in school, and I actually got a U in my AS Health and Social Care exam. Shocking, I know. I actually resat that exam just a few months later, and got an A – apparently we weren’t taught how to answer the questions in the way in which the exam board expected us to, but who knows what happened with that exam (14 out of 21 students failed the first time round).

Unfortunately, by the time A Levels came around I just didn’t care all that much. I didn’t go to view very many universities, I didn’t look into courses, by god I barely attended classes at sixth form so when it came to applying for courses I didn’t know what I wanted to do. After a few weeks of panicking, and a lot of long conversations with my English Language teacher, and the head of year, I got the idea to study Childhood Studies – with the main reasoning being I can use this as a platform to go into teaching, amongst other careers – social work, adoption services, youth worker, teaching assistant, child nursing – honestly the list is almost endless.

I applied to attend the Summer School held at Northumbria University in the summer of 2012, and thankfully, along with a large portion of my friendship group, I was accepted. Every summer school is different, but the one I attended gave me an insight into university life, helped me to meet new people and talked through the modules i’d cover whilst study Childhood Studies. And, honestly after a week of tragic team building exercises, awkward ice breakers and a lot of laughing, I thought core blimey, this university life is for me. Even the course content really interested me. I couldn’t wait to get home and apply. In fact, I was that amendment that I was going to university, I used all five options to apply for various Childhood Studies courses across the UK – Northumbria, Sunderland, Teeside, Doncaster and Leicester, with Northumbria being my first choice.

Fast forward to results day 2013, and Northumbria had rejected my offer as I didn’t do all that well in my overall results. I was in tears. I ran to my grandparents house, then hoped in a taxi to my mums so I could check UCAS, and the entire time I was still crying. I got home, and went straight to my bedroom, opened UCAS on my broken iPad to find that Sunderland had offered me a place. I cried some more. But I accepted the offer. I hadn’t been to the university, I knew nothing about the course, or the accommodation, or the services it offered. Nothing. I knew absolutely nothing. I had 3 weeks to get myself sorted, pack my self up and move across the river.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am so glad I went to Sunderland University, I met some amazing people, made some amazing memories, and a lot of disastrous mistakes but I certainly wouldn’t change a thing about my time in Sunderland.

But, fast forward to February 2015 – this bit is important, honest – I applied to the Camp America programme on a whim, and within three short weeks, I had completed my online application, attended an interview and been scouted by a camp leader in Norfolk, Virginia. It was a crazy whirlwind but my god, I was off to live in America for 3 months. I was able to speak to girls who had already spent a summer or two out there, and get to know what to expect, and I couldn’t wait. But nothing would ever prepare me for my time out there, nothing.

I became a camp counsellor for adults with disabilities, and some of the adults I supported couldn’t afford to have a formal diagnosis, therefore they were often labeled as “retarted” amongst other things. And it was just awful. Not the experience itself, but seeing first hand how very different the health care system was out there, but not even just the health care system, but the social care system in general. It’s just awful.

Some of the wonderful adults that I supported couldn’t afford equipment such as hoists, and slings. And as someone who has worked as a care and support worker over here in the UK for well over a year now, I know how easily accessible this equipment can be.

But during my time out in America, I was fascinated by the way in which the onsite nurses worked. On an evening I would find myself supporting them where I could, and then this trend followed on to when I worked in a care home. I was just so interested, I wanted to help whatever way I could, learn what I could, and I feel sorry for all of the nurses that I have worked with over the last few years because they never got a moments peace when I was about. But, I definitely wouldn’t be in the position I am in today if it wasn’t for them.

Another question I have been asked quite frequently was will I receive financial support/how would i fund a second degree? I have been quite lucky, in the sense that although the NHS Bursary no longer exists – as of August 1st 2017 – the new funding via Student Finance England entitles students to receive funding to study a degree that leads to a professional qualification in the health care sector, even if they have received funding through SF England previously. Area’s of study include nursing – adult, child, mental health and learning disability nursing – midwifery and dentistry.

Some universities also offer funding and financial support such as the Hardship Fund which rewards students up to about £600 to help with their studies. And there are also a number of different scholarships offered across the university too.

If you’d like more information on applying for Student Finance, or finding out whether you are entitled to it yourself then you can find out more information here for England, or here for Student Finance Wales.

And, the third question I get asked the most is am I nervous about starting a whole new undergraduate degree? My god, am I nervous? Of course I am. I have spent the last three, or four years with the same group of people, at the same university, with the same lecturers and now it’s a whole fresh start. It reminds me of 2013, rocking up to the University of Sunderland with no idea what to expect, except I know what to expect in some sense, and that is making me more nervous.

I’ve struggled to speak to anyone who is attending the course apart from to ask a few questions, there is also almost double the amount of students in this cohort then there was in Childhood Studies, so that is also incredibly nerve wracking.

But, I know that I have to take my own advice, and make some friends, be prepared and be reading. It’s going to be hard to settle back into education after a year out but I’m just glad I am finally able to work towards a career that I have had my heart set on since I was little.

I am going to wrap this post up now, and I will post part two at a later date, because there are still a large number of questions I am yet to answer. But if you have any questions that you would like to ask, then leave a comment below and I will either answer via the comments, or I will add them to the post.

So, if you’re still around, then thanks!

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